An engrossing and educational look at forensic nurse examiners.

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TOLUIDINE BLUE

A NOVEL

A debut novel follows two Baltimore forensic nurse examiners who search for evidence in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Trauma nurse Addie Donovan’s long hours evidently become too much for her fiance, who suddenly breaks off their engagement. She packs her things and moves in with her friend Rachel Tristin, a nurse and death investigator. Though she’s upset, Addie uses the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a forensic nurse examiner. It’s a demanding job that requires, for instance, a rigorous examination of a gay man whom two attackers brutally assaulted and sexually tortured. But Addie has a passion for helping people, and Rachel, seemingly inspired by her friend, becomes an FNE as well (“She wanted to help living victims of horrific crimes get through the worst day of their life”). Both women find time for potential romance with men they’ve met in the course of their work. Addie frequently confers with ruggedly handsome Detective Frank Knight on cases, and Rachel is immediately smitten with firefighter David, though he doesn’t call her after their first date. Meanwhile, there’s a possibility that a serial rapist is stalking and attacking women in Baltimore, ultimately resulting in one of the two friends being in peril. Keating and Shoenfeld’s novel often feels like a series of short stories. Chapters, for example, typically focus on a stand-alone subplot: Addie happens upon an icy-road accident involving a bus of handicapped children, and Rachel works her first case as an FNE. While the serial rapist story arc mostly sits on the back burner, the various subplots skillfully showcase two empathetic, professional women. Their thorough examinations entail gentle but direct questions as the nurses explain to the victims every aspect of the exam (for example, what they’re photographing and why). The authors’ extensive medical backgrounds produce meticulous descriptions and an unflinching but enlightening look at what constitutes sexual assault forensic exams. While Addie and Rachel have personal lives (primarily dating), time spent between the two friends is unfortunately negligible. But readers will likely hope for a sequel with the two laudable characters.

An engrossing and educational look at forensic nurse examiners.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79690-454-3

Page Count: 179

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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